|Good morning Mersing|
Day 1: 4 Sep. To commeorate Bike 'n' Blade's 10th event, we reprise the route of the 2005 inaugural ride. Instead of a ferry to Desaru, we bus up on 4 Sep. The only cycling I do on is ride 10 km to the bus pickup point. DHL volunteers wraps up our bicycles and loads them. "It's a mountain bike," one volunteer says. Instead of stuffing my machine with the other carbon road bikes in the bus hold, he carries my heavier bike into the bus.
It's great to catch up with some repeat charity riders; we meet once a year. E flew back home from Shanghai just for this. And I'm glad to have a room mate who doesn't snore; room are assigned randomly.
Nightstop: Pulai Desaru Beach Resort
Rain and shine
Day 2: 5 Sep, Mersing, 135 km. We ride at 7 am. It rains. It's cold. I zip up and ride. The sun comes out. I'm glad, until warm becomes steaming hot.
|Non-horizontal, to the horizon|
Mersing. I was here two weeks ago. And here I am again. It doesn't get easier. And my butt still hurts. I stop and fiddle with my saddle several times.
So many people pass me by, including a roadie who says "Yay, mountain bike." Two volunteers are on motorbikes: a lady on Ducati and a guy on KTM. I wish I had one of those.
At the hotel, I use an ironing board to dry laundry in the sun, and improvise a plumb line to adjust my saddle fore-aft position.
Nightstop: Hotel Seri Malaysia Mersing
Feeling at a loss
Day 3: 6 Sep, Desaru, 124 km. After breakfast, I notice my rear tyre is flat. It was ok when I sat on it yesterday afternoon to adjust my saddle.
I look for the hole in the inner tube: I can't see it, feel it, hear it. I fill the sink with water using a makeshift bung, but still fail. I feel the inside of the tyre with both hands but feel at a loss. I replace the inner tube, hoping that what's happened would be like in Inner Mongolia: replacing the tube would fix the problem.
I catch up with riders at the first rest stop. At every stop, I pump up my tyres. It's a slow leak, and I ride slowly. For the first time ever, I see the sweeper, S. He's a regular at charity rides over the years and for the first time, I have a break with him.
Less than 15 km from the end, a sweeper vehicle stops. The crew gently talk me into boarding. This is the first time I'm swept up. I feel deflated like my tyre. Yesterday, "slow and steady wins the race," a roadie told me. Today, a slow and steady leak gets me.
What's the use of cycling on knobby tyres if they puncture like slicks on the road?
On the bus to Singapore, I examine a punctured inner tube. Back in Singapore, I turn the tyre inside out and study it. I just can't see it. I flip the tyre right side up and study it. There, clear as day, a wriggly piece of wire, 1 cm long. It looks like a staple. How did it penetrate the tyre where it hurt most, missing the big knob beside it?
Moral of the story: stick to the discipline of checking the outside of the tyre at the end of every ride, and check the tyre first thing in the morning.
Well, at least my saddle and butt are ok.